Poland's EU anger: Warsaw says letting Ukraine in Schengen Zone will devastate economy – media
Poland has hit out at the European Union for easing visa rules for Ukrainian citizens, saying the country's labor market would be damaged and its economy will suffer.
The EU's top executive, the European Commission, lifted visa requirements for citizens of Ukraine last year, meaning residents of the country can travel without a visa to the Schengen area, according to the Daily Express.
Poland, which depends on workers from former-Soviet Block nations, had a relaxed agreement with Ukraine, giving 1.3 million temporary work registrations, and 116,000 more received longer-term work permits.
But now Labor shortages are the top concern for Poland's monetary policy, as the country has seen its jobless rate fall to record lows, driving wages higher and spurring inflationary concerns.
In December, the unemployment rate in Poland stood at 6.6 percent, thanks to solid economic growth, a population that is ageing and an outflow of younger workers to richer parts of Europe.
Cheap labor from neighboring Ukraine and Belarus has compensated for the shortages, but with the EU visa regime easing for Ukraine there is a concern that fewer of them will make Poland their work destination.
The top monetary policy maker, Adam Glapinski, voiced his worries whether the country could attract enough workers from the two neighbors.
Read alsoHow can Ukraine keep qualified workers from leaving countrySpeaking to Dziennik Gazeta Prawna in an interview, he said: "What are we concerned about? For example, in terms of the labor market – will we find enough of workers in Ukraine and Belarus to compensate for the labor deficit in Poland?"
Only 16 million of Poland's 38 million citizens are currently working.
An estimated one to 1.5 million Ukrainians work in Poland, of whom many work without work permits.
Poland's Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers estimated two years ago that the country needs about five million additional workers to sustain its economic growth.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is estimated to have reached 4.5 percent last year, according to analysts.
Mr. Glapinski said he would not hesitate to raise Polish rates if, for example, the European Central Bank, were to start raising rates, but he said he would like the cost of money to stay unchanged throughout this and next year.